LONDON (Reuters) – The older generation gave tennis’s tyros a lesson in staying power on Monday as a string of golden oldies, led by the 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic, stormed into the second round at Wimbledon.
On a day when a number of the youngsters tipped for the top, such as Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, waved goodbye to the All England Club, those at the other end of their careers showed them how it was done.
At 40 years 123 days, Karlovic is the oldest man to start in the main draw and the oldest to compete in the men’s singles at Wimbledon since Ken Rosewall in 1975.
Yet the giant Croat is still able to battle it out with most players on the circuit and, armed with a serve that continues to pack a fearsome punch, he made light work of Italian qualifier Andrea Arnaboldi by winning 6-4 6-4 7-6(4).
At 37-years-old, Feliciano Lopez’s career should be winding down to a close and yet — having lifted the singles and doubles titles at Queen’s — he has a spring in his step that carried him into the second round at Wimbledon.
The sun was beating down on the intimate setting of Court 11 when Lopez faced Marcos Giron, but it was the 25-year-old who was slumped on the net after handing the Spaniard the decisive break in the third set before a 6-4 6-2 6-4 defeat.
While his advancing years do not seem to have taken too heavy a toll on Lopez’s legs, he did seemingly forget his age when he spoke to reporters who asked about his Queen’s success.
“As you see, I have many reasons to be happy. It was obviously quite unexpected at 38 years old to be winning those titles in the same week,” he said.
There were 47 men aged 30 in this year’s main draw, not far off the Grand Slam record of 51 at the French Open in 2016.
With Roger Federer (37), Rafa Nadal (33) and Novak Djokovic (32) still holding the tightest of grips on the men’s game, it is hard to see a member of the younger generation emerging victorious on Sunday week.
Djokovic eased into the second round on Monday with a 6-3 7-5 6-3 win over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, another veteran at 35, and the march of the old-stagers continued throughout the day.
The 35-year-old Fernando Verdasco eased past Kamil Majchrzak, 23, 6-4 6-4 6-4, while Andreas Seppi, who is also 35 beat Nicholas Jarry, 12 years his junior, 6-3 6-7(8) 6-1 6-2.
The 35-year-old Steve Darcis, who felled Nadal in one of the tournament’s major shocks in 2013, beat Mischa Zverev 6-2 6-4 6-4 and Marcel Granollers (33) beat Lorenzo Sonego 7-6(4) 6-4 6-4.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ken Ferris)